Interesting Facts

Scientists separated triplets at birth for a controversial experiment and had no idea what they were doing

As part of an experiment, a set of triplets was intentionally separated at birth and given to three sets of parents from different socioeconomic backgrounds. It was discovered in 1980, when two of the triplets attended the same college.

In a contentious experiment from the 1960s, researchers separated triplets at birth and observed them separately throughout childhood.

You might be familiar with the tale of Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran if you’ve watched the shocking Netflix documentary Three Identical Strangers. These three brothers didn’t know each other existed until a chance encounter.

They were not the only siblings who were separated at birth, as psychiatrist Dr. Peter Neubauer investigated the effects of ‘nature vs. nurture’ on childhood development.

He divided twins and triplets and allowed them to be adopted by various families to observe how children developed differently. Kellman, Galland, and Shafran were given to working-class, middle-class, and upper-middle class families, respectively.

Researchers visited the boys once a year for the first 10 years of their lives during the study, which was carried out in collaboration with an adoption agency.

Even their adoptive families were unaware that they had brothers, according to researcher Samuel Abrams, who collaborated with Neubauer, who claimed that part of the reason for this secrecy was for “ethical reasons.”

Scientists separated triplets at birth for a controversial experiment and had no idea what they were doing 1
Identical triplets Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran were separated at birth. Credit: Netflix

In a paper about the study, Abrams stated that “once the placements were made, for ethical reasons, the agency could not tell the adoptive parents or the children of the existence of a twin, lest that knowledge impair the family-child bonding that was expected to evolve and is recognized as so necessary for growth and development.”

Researchers interviewed family members, watched the kids play, and administered IQ tests to the kids during their visits in order to compare the results.

Although the triplets were initially unaware of one another, Kellman is sure the brothers experienced separation anxiety as children.

He said in an interview with The New York Post: “Those who were studying us saw there was a problem happening. And they could have helped. That’s the thing we’re most angry about. They could have helped. and didn’t.”

The brothers didn’t learn about one another until Shafran started attending Sullivan Country Community College in upstate New York when he was 19 years old.

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The brothers were reunited when they were 19, all being unaware of one another’s existance. Credit: Netflix

Before another student realized that they were actually two different people, students there approached him and started calling him “Eddy.”

Shafran and Galland were shocked to learn about their other brother after their story was published in a newspaper because they had assumed they were twins.

The brothers, who were inseparable from the moment they met, gained national attention for their story, participating in numerous televised interviews and even opening a restaurant in New York City together, the Triplets Roumanian Steakhouse.

However, all three men had mental health problems, and Galland tragically committed suicide in 1995.

Although psychiatrists have not released the contentious study’s findings, Neubauer is said to have expressed no regret for his experiment.

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